There are many reasons to launch your own startup, but hating your job is not one of them. There’s a much better alternative.
From a distance, being a startup founder looks awesome. It's the perfect blend of freedom, autonomy and creativity.
It's an opportunity to do something meaningful... to create value.
It's a chance to escape the corporate guidelines and instructions from on-high and finally to focus on a problem that matters.
Now, you can truly help people...
...Maybe even make the world a better place.
It's true. A startup can be all these things.
But it can also be horrible.
Talk to any founder you know and ask them, honestly, what is it like being a founder?
You'll almost certainly hear at least some of the following words:
Don’t believe what you read in the press. The startup journey is not a pleasant one. It's merciless, it's painful and it's unkind.
Of course, it can also be incredibly exciting, enjoyable, fulfilling and instructive.
It's truly a rollercoaster…
…Having built your startup, you look back and… that's right, you'd need some serious convincing to go and do it all over again.
You enjoyed it but…
...you almost died!
Many don’t go back, and I can understand why.
Where do most startups end up?
Of course there's no rule that covers everyone, but there are enough people not enjoying entrepreneurship to justify giving it some very serious thought before taking the leap yourself.
I meet way too many founders who aren't clear why they founded their business in the first place. Often they drifted into running a lifestyle business, which provides a significantly lower return on effort that the paid job they did previously. Some of them even admit openly that they regret starting, but by now they've reached mid-40s, feel unemployable, can't sell the business for a fraction of what they feel it's worth, and therefore believe there's no option but to forge onwards.
Don't assume this can't happen to you. It's a much more likely outcome than a trade sale or IPO.
4 reasons to build a startup
This all sounds very grim, but some won't be discouraged. All I'm saying is... don’t try to launch a startup unless...
- You’re beyond passionate!
- (Never do it for the money...)
- Do it, despite knowing you’ll probably fail.
- Do it because you’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t try.
- Do it because nobody else can.
But don’t do it because you hate your job.
Just find somewhere else to work!
"Entrepreneurship is about running towards something. Not running away from something."
Alternative to launching a startup
Seriously, despite trying to be an entrepreneur for most of my working life, I still believe the ultimate career is doing something you love, with people you like, while someone else worries about paying you.
In other words, find a better job.
(Here's some advice on how.)
While I wouldn't change a thing about my own journey (and admit that maybe I've just done it wrong!), in my opinion, those are the lucky ones.
Of course, entrepreneurship can be different things to different people. It doesn't have to be as I've described above, and I've met many people who built something - often quietly - who now have an amazing lifestyle as a result.
And yet, the harsh reality for most people is something like the above... at least in the beginning.
Should YOU launch a startup?
Despite what you may think, I'm absolutely not saying you shouldn't become an entrepreneur. I'm just saying don't assume it's all plain sailing.
In my experience, running a company is a hard path, beset with obstacles that can wipe you out at any moment - from a change in the Google algorithm (I've seen this in the last 6 months) to competition from a US-funded startup that's "blitzscaling" and offering the same service as you, at a loss.
There are, as always, exceptions, but I think it's fair to say that, for most people, building a company is the hardest thing you'll ever do.
Except maybe being a parent!